Dr. Christen Fleming: Animal space use

Event time: 
Thursday, October 28, 2021 - 1:00pm
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Event description: 

Please join us for a seminar hosted by the Max Planck-Yale Center for Biodiversity Movement and Global Change, featuring speaker Dr. Christen Fleming.

BIO: Christen Fleming is a physicist, mathematician, and statistician by training, and is currently an associate research scientist at the University of Maryland College Park (UMDCP) Department of Biology and a research associate at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) Conservation Ecology Center. Dr. Fleming develops complementary mathematical models, statistical analyses, and software packages for difficult to work with ecological data. Currently, his focus is on addressing conservation related questions with animal tracking data, but he also works on evolutionary models for phylogenetic data, among other topics. Dr. Fleming earned a Bachelor of Science in physics, mathematics and statistics from the University of South Alabama, and obtained his doctorate in physics from UMCDP. He has since held post-doctoral positions in biology at UMDCP and SCBI, working with Drs. Justin M. Calabrese, Bill F. Fagan, and Peter Leimbgruber.

ABSTRACT: Satellite tracking technology has brought about an explosion in the collection of animal tracking data. These data are used to inform a number of subjects, including population dynamics, animal behavior, and disease transmission. A key interest addressed by animal tracking data is how much physical space animals use. Unfortunately, the most commonly applied statistical methods for space-use estimation were never intended for high-frequency movement data. In fact, these methods exhibit counter-intuitive biases that actually worsen as data quality improves. Moreover, the biases are negative, which means that space-use requirements are being underestimated on average, which, in turn, propagates detrimentally into undersized conservation and management recommendations. In this talk, I explain these biases with statistical analogies and thought experiments. I also describe their resolution—modern statistical methods based on stochastic process models—with animations and empirical examples.

Dr. Fleming will also be hosting a workshop for MPYC researchers on the same day. Read more about that event here.

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